Adrenal fatigue – do you know the symptoms and solutions? What are the symptoms and what are the solutions?
Adrenal fatigue affects millions of people at some time in their lives. Most of these people don’t know they have adrenal fatigue until it manifests as something serious with a diagnosis.
Little did they know that adrenal fatigue was a leading cause of their current illness. So it is important to know what adrenal fatigue and do something about it before it manifests into something more serious.
Why is there such a great amount of adrenal fatigue in the world?
Because we are living in the most stressful times ever and our diets are filled with fast carbohydrates that affect our metabolism in a way that is detrimental for our health. Chronic stress and diet are the 2 key factors that influence adrenal fatigue. We are working harder, spending more time on electronics, sleeping less and doing less exercise. We are living alone, more of us are living in single parent homes and divorce is at an all time high.
What are some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
- Achy joints
- Focus issues and brain fog
- Short term memory issues
- Hormone imbalance
- Cravings for salty foods
- Cravings for sweet foods
- Increased thirst
- Poor sleep
- Bowel dysfunction – alternating loose stools and constipation
- Recurrent or persistent infections, especially viral infections
- Decreased or no libido
- Hair loss
- Exhausted that goes beyond tired
- Weight gain or loss
- Bone loss
By the time a person comes to find out what is wrong, they may have been struggling with symptoms for a long time, perhaps even years.
How does adrenal fatigue happen?
Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress of your body. They suffer an inability to produce adequate levels of hormones – hormones that are needed for the body to communicate and function. Your adrenal glands produce your body’s responses to every kind of stress including emotional stress, physical stress or psychological stress.
Adrenal fatigue often happens after one dramatic stressful event such as the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job or a financial crisis. However, it can also be the result of a long period of chronic stress and you may not be so aware of the stress if your body has adapted to long term stress.
You may still look well and don’t have any outward symptoms of illness but you feel exhausted, wired and anxious. You may be drinking too much coffee, drinking sodas, drinking daily alcohol and eating too many sugary carbohydrates.
If this is you, I would highly recommend that you seek help from a functional medicine practitioner before your situation develops into stage 2 or 3 adrenal fatigue.
The stages of adrenal fatigue
There are 3 stages of adrenal fatigue that have been identified. They are measured by the level of cortisol in your bloodstream or saliva over a 24-hour period. Your cortisol is designed to be highest early morning and then it gently decreases over the day until it is lowest at night for you to sleep. There is a relationship between cortisol and DHEA and when this relationship goes out of balance, you have either stage 2 or stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Stage 3 adrenal fatigue will present with low cortisol all the time as well as low DHEA all the time.
Almost all professional people who we have tested in the clinic are either stage 2 or stage 3 adrenal fatigue.
Just working too hard at your job which you may be expected to do, will cause adrenal fatigue. If you have to work hard, it is critical that you develop coping strategies for balancing your stress.
High cortisol for long periods of time will cause a catabolic effect in your body. This negatively affects your immune system (which will be too low or too high), brain, bones, heart and muscles can all deteriorate. If you have stage 3 adrenal fatigue, this means that you will have had high cortisol for a long time before both DHEA and cortisol give up the battle and both collapse.
What are your adrenal glands?
Your adrenals are 2 glands that sit on top of your kidneys and control many functions in your body. They are an important part of your endocrine system that controls your hormones. Hormones are switches to every cell in your body telling them what to do.
Your adrenal glands work closely with 2 other endocrine organs – your hypothalamus and your pituitary. This makes up the HPA axis and is the triad that we recommend our patients measure when they first come to the clinic. This is in the form of a saliva test. This is because your adrenal glands work in concert with your hypothalamus and pituitary. Therefore, just measuring adrenal function without hypothalamus function and pituitary function doesn’t make much sense. And this triad of glands also controls what happens to your thyroid so thyroid health is intricately woven into your HPA axis health. Therefore, we recommend that we test your HPA axis as well as your thyroid function when you work with us.
Your adrenals have 2 parts. There is the adrenal medulla which releases adrenaline in response to any perceived threat and then there is your adrenal cortex that releases corticosteroids that affects digestion, immunity and other functions required for life.
Some of the hormones that your adrenals secrete include aldosterone, DHEA, epinephrine, cortisol, estrogens, progesterone and testosterone.
Some of the functions that your adrenals control are:
- Stress response – fight or flight response that we need to protect us against life threatening situations
- Energy production – carbohydrate, protein and fat conversion to blood glucose for energy. These are the processes that lead to the mitochondrial process of ATP production.
- Fat storage
- Electrolyte balance and water balance in your cells
- Keep your blood sugar balanced
- Regulate blood pressure
- Controls the immune system response. Too much cortisol weakens the immune system, increasing your susceptibility for viruses, parasites, infections and cancers. Too little cortisol can lead to an overactive immune system and autoimmunity.
Can you see how many links to today’s chronic illnesses have their origin in your adrenal glands?
How do you correct this adrenal imbalance?
If you don’t have any of the above symptoms and have no diagnosed disease yet – you are lucky. Then our recommendations here are easy to implement and can make a huge difference to your energy and metabolic balance. We are all too stressed and every one of us needs to implement lifestyle changes to help our adrenal gland function.
If you already have a diagnosed illness, then following our lifestyle guidelines is essential. We also recommend that you work with a qualified healthcare professional who has specific knowledge in adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue and can help you navigate your specific case.
It is going to take a consolidated consistent effort combining all the following points in order to restore your overall health.
Our recommendations for correcting adrenal fatigue
We recommend an anti-inflammation diet that is high in fat, moderate protein, high in vegetables, moderate in fruit and low in carbohydrates. Eating clean, organic, non-GMO foods is a must. You can contact us for a copy of our anti-inflammation diet.
You want to go to bed at a regular time before 10 pm each night. Aim to be sleeping for 8 hours of minimum. And now, you may even need up to 10 hours of sleep a night as you restore your adrenal glands. Take a warm bath before bed. Drink chamomile tea and use lavender essential oils.
Initially you may be so tired, that exercising is not an option. However, we recommend that you at least walk for 20 minutes a day. This helps you to get outdoors which is good for your soul, take a breather and appreciate your surroundings. It also helps to relax you. Once you are getting better, you can start a designed exercise program that helps to switch your cells. An interval training program is what we recommend. We also love rebounding as an exercise. And you may install a far infrared sauna for healing. You can combine your relaxation techniques listed below with taking a sauna.
Drinking enough clean water is critical. Often we are dehydrated. It is generally recommended that you drink ½ your body weight in water daily. Please filter your water because most water is full of chemicals and heavy metals that your body doesn’t want.
Meditation is a form of mindfulness. If you have never thought about meditation or don’t know what it is – we recommend that you discover meditation. Meditation can help speed up your healing. And if you are an A-type personality, I know that you want to get this done quickly – LOL!
And meditation is not about your Faith or belief system. It ‘s about calming down your brain and stopping the trash that is floating through your brain daily.
Just incorporating relaxation techniques, sleep, water, dietary changes and suitable exercise will transform your health. Please know that if you are suffering from stage 2 adrenal fatigue, your timeline to health will be about 1 year. And if you have stage 3 adrenal fatigue, your timeline to health will be approximately 2 years.
Supplements for adrenal fatigue
Comprehensive vitamins and full spectrum minerals with extra B vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, Selenium and Adaptogenic herbs.
Make sure you are getting enough real sea salt.
We also recommend redox signaling molecules for cell communication.
Contact us for more information on these programs.
My adrenal fatigue
When I first sought help with my exhaustive list of symptoms 20 years ago, there was no one in my community in Surrey, England who had any specific knowledge about adrenal fatigue. Had there been a health professional who understood this situation, I am sure I would have made faster progress towards great health. As it was, I stumbled upon alternative health professionals who all had a small part of the overall picture. I worked with an acupuncturist, nutritionist, chiropractor, homeopath, massage therapist and healer. My medical doctor told me I was making up my issues. He said it was all in my head. Have you heard that before?
Finally, I trained as a homeopath and my health journey continues. Since those days, I have trained in multiple modalities including functional medicine which is my professional passion. We offer functional medicine from our clinic in Denver, Colorado.
I enjoy great health unless I start to live in a way that is not kind to my body and mind. Fortunately, I know quickly when I slipping up, and I get back on track. I still struggle with sugar cravings and my blood sugar is slightly unstable.
Functional medicine and adrenal fatigue
This is why functional medicine plays such an important role in health services today. A functional medicine practitioner can co-ordinate your specific case and arrange for testing. They can recommend other professionals who can provide services for you too. They will recommend lifestyle coaching including dietary changes, relaxation techniques, sleep help and exercise appropriate for your individual situation. There is a holistic approach to each patient. As a functional medicine practitioner, I work with medical doctors, specialists, acupuncturists, therapists and other health professionals.
More Resources for you
From fatigued to fantastic by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.
The fast metabolism diet by Haylie Pomroy
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